Hilary Benn, who led Labour MPs supporting David Cameron’s drive to war in Syria, has faced multiple protests and lobbies in his Leeds constituency. He was not persuaded when lobbied by Peter Brierley, father of soldier killed in Iraq, nor by an eleventh hour open letter from students and staff at Leeds University. Leeds Coalition Against War reports below on the lobbies and protests.
In a week which has seen the horror of the British state partaking in yet another imperial war in the Middle East, there has also been mass protests against militarism and resistance from below which gives hope – huge demonstrations of thousands of people in London, Bristol, Manchester and so on.
In Leeds, we have had four anti-war protests in the last week alone, including a successful lobby of Hilary ‘Bomber’ Benn, which received national attention and coverage.
Last Saturday 28 November, as the rushed drive to war gathered pace, Leeds Coalition Against the War organised a protest at 12noon before the climate change demonstration taking place later that day on Briggate – which saw about fifty or so people brave the appalling weather to protest – and then join the climate change march, where the Stop the War ‘Don’t Bomb Syria’ banners were widely welcomed and appreciated. This was part of a national day of action called by the Stop the War Coalition which saw protests across the country.
Stop The War protest in Leeds city centre. One of many around Yorkshire today. pic.twitter.com/4Y8xDigIw1
— Michelle Lyons (@MichelleLyons5) November 28, 2015
On Thursday 3 December, the day after parliament voted for war and the day that the bombing of Syria started, LCAW at less than a day’s notice – coming out of a public meeting we held to put the case against the war the night before on the evening of the vote, Wednesday 2 December, organised a vigil and march which met at 5pm Dortmund Square. About 200 people gathered and we then held an impromtu march around Leeds city centre, chanting ’1,2,3,4 – We don’t want your bloody war, 5,6,7,8, Spend it on the welfare state’ and ‘Say Hey, Say Ho, Hilary Benn has got to go!’ You can watch a video clip of the protest it was also covered briefly by Look North in their report that evening. See the video clip of the protest here.
On Saturday 5 December, about fifty or so people – including many local constituents – came together for the LCAW lobby of Hilary ‘Bomber’ Benn at his Beeston surgery at The Vale, Tunstall Road and hold him to democratic account.
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) December 5, 2015
This was a peaceful protest and got widespread coverage in the local and national media. There are photos here and on the @LCAW1 twitter account page. See also the reports in South Leeds Life, Yorkshire Post, and the BBC.
— South Leeds Life (@SouthLeedsLife) December 5, 2015
Finally, a protest organised largely over Facebook but supported by LCAW mobilised saw about 300 or so people gather outside Leeds City Art Gallery on Headrow, and then march around Briggate – braving the wind – a fine culmination of a week of anti-war protest and testament to the anger and energy that is out there against the warmongers. See photos here
— OKDproductions (@OKDProductions) December 5, 2015
It is clear that there is real widespread anger at the latest war our politicians – most of whom backed the three previous disastrous wars in the Middle East – have taken us into – and this is not going to dissipate anytime soon. In Leeds we have to rebuild the anti-war movement again into a mass force that can end British participation in inter-imperialist great power air-wars like the one underway in Syria, that will only cause more death and destruction and make the world an even more dangerous place.
Leeds Coalition Against the War are a democratic campaigning organisation and we are holding an organising meeting for all those who want to help build the anti-war movement in Leeds on Monday 7 December at 7pm Pullman Room, Cosmopolitan Hotel, Lower Briggate, Leeds, LS1 4AE. We will discuss what we can and should be doing over the next few weeks and months. Please come along and be part of the discussion.
At the meeting we will discuss what we can do in Leeds to support the national Stop the War demonstration in London on Saturday 12 December.
Source: Leeds Coalition Against the War